If it Ain’t Broke…Don’t Fix It (But It’s Broke)

If it Ain’t Broke…Don’t Fix It (But It’s Broke)

Doug Douglas – National Engagement Manager at Stark

January 31, 2012

I live in the center of Texas, and we have an expression that I’ve heard my entire life that says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Basically, just leave “well enough” alone because in trying to “fix” it, you might just make it worse.

I can certainly identify with trying to make things “better.” In August of 2011, I was diagnosed with cancer. I had three major surgeries within a month’s time where 16 tumors were removed. I’ve been receiving treatments since then, and yesterday received the news that they are working and things are looking very good! Now, I didn’t plan to have cancer – and I certainly didn’t want to have cancer. My body was broken and was in need of some “fixing.” So, as unpleasant as it was, I endured the surgeries, the tests, the scans, the treatments, and so on in order to be better. And now, 5-6 months later, it was worth the ordeal to get to this point!

Recruiting – while not life threatening – is broken and in need of being fixed. Corporate Recruiting, Contingency Recruiting, Recruiting Recruiting – they all need some work done. Processes need to be improved so that a company can attract the BEST candidates, and not just the ones who are interested in working for you. Technology can be used to address major gaps and mistakes that organizations are making in their recruiting strategies. Companies can’t stand calling on recruiting firms to assist because they feel like they are overpriced and under-served, leading to an adversarial relationship instead of a true partnership.

Did you know that 89% of those who lose or leave a job within 18 months of being hired did so because of attitude – not skills or knowledge. But what do most recruiters screen for? Skills and knowledge. It’s the fit within the company, the behaviors, drivers, and personality that can make or break the success of a new hire. Yet companies continue to ignore this piece of the candidate.

Contingency Recruiting has a world of problems with their model. “Let me go work on this search for you and then pay me 25% of the hired person’s salary if I find the right person for you.” Simultaneously doing the same with 6, 7, 10, 15 other companies. In this model:

  • The easiest to fill will get the most attention.
  • The recruiter is going to spend 48-72 hours working on this and then move on to the next one.
  • The recruiter is going to send you the most expensive candidate they can find (not necessarily the most qualified) so their fee will be as much as possible.
  • The recruiter is counting on filling 1 position out of those 6,7,10, 15 – and making enough on that one fee – to pay for the time and effort on the others that went unfilled.
  • There is no accountability for the recruiter to care that your position went unfilled.
  • It’s a race to submit first before other contingency recruiters submit their candidates. This means no one is taking the time to care if the candidate will fit within your culture, has the correct motivations and drivers. It’s simply, “Do they have enough of the bullet points on the job description covered for me to submit them?”

For the Corporate Recruiter, you have your share of fixes that need to be addressed as well:

  • Your job descriptions are uninformative.
  • Your salary range is hidden.
  • Candidates fall into a black hole when they apply for your jobs, never to hear from anyone within your organization.
  • The application process is long and burdensome.
  • You have 50-60 openings that you are working on at any moment, so you don’t have the time to look at cultural fit, motivators, drivers, personality as well.

This is “broke.” There is a better way! Stark believes in challenging the status quo. We do so by:

  • Partnering with you and working that search until it is successfully filled.
  • Providing a fixed fee before the search begins so the salary of the hired person will not impact our bottom line. This fixed fee typically saves you 50% or more than you will pay under that old model.
  • We care about the “whole candidate.” His/her skills, experience, education, certifications – but also their motivators, drivers, personality and how they will mesh within the team you already have in place. We do this through our SourceMatch technology.
  • We would like to have key people that you would work with consistently so they will know your company, managers, your likes and dislikes, and ultimately make the process smoother and easier for all involved.
  • Helping your brand in the marketplace through processes and workflows that make it easy for candidates to apply, as well as keep them informed throughout.
  • Real time metrics and data provided to hiring managers and HR so they can see where at search is at any time.

There is such a difference between the service you receive when you are seen as a vendor, and when you are seen as a partner. At Stark, we always desire to be a partner to our customers – looking out for your best interests and working alongside you to a successful end. When you discover the Stark difference, you’ll realize just how much better things could be! We are rated in the top 1% of all staffing firms in the US, and received that rating by not only our customers, but also our candidates!

Recruiting is broke. It’s scary to try something new sometimes, but we have example after example of how our model works and our customers love it! Why don’t you let me help you fix it?


Too Busy to Do It Right

Too Busy to Do It Right

Doug Douglas – National Engagement Manager at Stark

January 27, 2012


I grew up with parents who were perfectionists. They believed that everything should be done at the very highest level, and they worked very hard to accomplish that goal. They would also look for opportunities to go beyond what the average person would do, and make their project stand out above the rest. I didn’t always embrace this though as I recall many homework assignments where I did the minimum to get by, instead of doing my best. Those research papers of high school, I can’t recall anything that I did to make them stand apart from others that were submitted. As I’m now in my 40’s, I can see that I have morphed into a perfectionist as well. I try to do things correctly the first time so more time won’t be wasted going back and correcting something later. And in everything that I do, I try to find something that can make it stand out when compared to others.

In the world of business though, what priority do these things have?

  • Do we take the time to set up our organizations correctly the first time, or do things that set us apart from the competition?
  • Why is it that we get so busy that we delay, or sometimes even ignore, these basic fundamental aspects of an operation?
  • Is it possible that if doing things well, and setting ourselves apart from others, could actually make us more profitable?

Our businesses are made up of people – “brand ambassadors,” some might say. I would argue that the overall success of failure of your business is determined by the people that you select to represent it. If they are truly that important, should you regularly evaluate exactly what your recruiting efforts, strategies, and processes are to make sure you are:

  • Attracting the very best talent?
  • Making the process one that respects the candidate?
  • Hiring as efficiently and cost effectively as possible?
  • Building your own corporate brand in the marketplace?
  • Working smarter instead of harder?

Every year, I evaluate myself. I look to see where I am, what I’ve done, and where I’m headed. Then I do my best to make adjustments in areas of weakness, but also trying to enhance my strengths to make them even better! But what would happen if I was so busy that I never evaluated anything that I had done? Most likely, I would keep doing the same things….even if they were wrong things. I’ve heard it said that stupidity is doing the same old thing and expecting different results. But in my everyday dealings, I hear from executives and HR leadership that they are just too busy to evaluate the human capital aspects of their company – you know, those people who make or break your company, “brand ambassadors,” blah, blah, blah.

I approach companies and ask them if I could come and sit down with them for just a few hours and go through my Stark Recruitment Appraisal with them. In this appraisal, I look at everything within an organization’s recruitment strategies and processes, and then come back and make suggestions based on our company’s 20+ years of experience and knowledge from serving customers all around the world from every industry imagineable. It covers:

  • Recruitment Planning
  • Recruitment Advertising / Marketing / Branding
  • Recruitment Activities
  • Candidate Experience
  • Use of Technology
  • Total Base Case / Cost per Hire
  • Metrics / Data

The response I get most often? “I’m too busy.” Really? Well, why don’t we move it out on the calendar for a month or two from now and then you can prepare for it and plan for it? “I’m too busy.” Well, guess what? One of your competitors won’t be too busy and they will get the best talent because they take time to evaluate and improve themselves. Cost isn’t even a factor for these companies – I’ve even offered to drop our normal cost and do the appraisal at no cost because they are an existing customer or a personal contact, if they would just cover any travel expenses, still…”I’m too busy.”

In my experience, most HR organizations don’t know the real money they are spending in their recruitment efforts. They haven’t established a process to measure the correct areas. There are things/costs that they have never considered. But they keep doing things the same old way and expecting different results. I’m offering to come in and do the work for you – ask all of the right questions – and provide a roadmap for you that will ultimately cause your organization to hire the right people quicker, easier, and more cost effectively. There are no strings attached – take my recommendations or not. It’s completely up to you.

For the executive or HR leader out there who is reading this right now, I challenge you – let’s do things right! Take some time to evaluate and improve. I’ll come alongside you and walk you through it. Just contact me if you want my help. DDouglas@StarkTalent.com.

From Angry Birds to Hog Heaven

From Angry Birds to Hog Heaven

Presented by: Doug Douglas – National Engagement Manager at Stark

Branding. It’s no longer just something that cowboys do to their cattle. It’s now a major emphasis for all types of organizations. Think of those huge companies who have the most recognizable logos and names – McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Exxon, Wal-Mart. You don’t have to stop and Google (yet another example) them to see what they do – everyone knows! And even better, you can be driving down the highway at 75 mph and glance up and know their logo in less than 1 second! But have you ever wondered what kind of resources they have poured into getting their name, their logo, and their reputation out there?

  • Microsoft – $11.5 billion
  • Coca-Cola – $2.5 billion
  • Yahoo! – $1.3 billion
  • eBay – $871 million
  • Google – $188 million
  • Starbucks – $95 million

Those are enormous amounts of money! What does it tell us about them that they are willing to spend so much money just on branding efforts? They truly must care about their brand! For them, they see it as the difference between getting lost in the crowd or rising above the competition.

But you don’t have to be a major, world-wide, giant in your industry to invest significant money into your brand – small companies do it too. On average, companies will invest anywhere from 3-20% of their sales revenue back into branding or marketing efforts. The small companies are trying to be well known, and the large companies are trying to stay well known.

So, if a company’s brand is that important, I wonder how many consider their recruiting efforts in their branding initiatives? Just go jump on Monster or CareerBuilder for a few minutes and you’ll see that the new start up in Austin, Texas has an ad placed right beside an ad by Microsoft, Dell, Cisco or AMD – all looking for the same type of worker with the same skill set. Who will win in the battle for the best candidate? Do we just assume that the large company always wins?

The Angry Birds

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, Angry Birds is a game that is played by just about everyone with a smartphone or tablet computer. You’ll see and hear it in school hallways, airports, subways, and even in your workplace.

The premise of the game is pretty basic:

  • Five angry birds are obsessed with protecting their beloved eggs.
  • Evil green pigs dream about and covet the birds’ eggs and eventually steal them.
  • So to get back at them, the angry birds slingshot themselves at structures that the green pigs have built in the hopes of killing the greedy pigs.
  • If you kill all the pigs with the birds you have been given, you get to advance to the next level.

You, and the team of people within your organization, have been working to build the best organization possible. You work hard and you spend lots of time, money, and resources to build your brand in the marketplace. You hire sales people with excellent communication skills to go out and tell people about your product/service. You might even have ad campaigns to help the public know who you are and what you have to offer. But there could very well be a weak spot within your organization that has gone unnoticed….your recruiting efforts could actually be hurting your brand!

What is it that makes a job seeker angry? And from a corporate branding point of view, is your process making job seekers angry enough that they will not use your service/product, tell others not to use your service/product, or discourage people from ever applying with your company in the first place?

Alison Green has a blog called “Ask a Manager” and in a recent poll she asked about the frustrations of candidates in the job seeking process. The results showed:

  • Unclear job postings
  • Unskilled interviewers
  • Endless application forms
  • But half of the responses were that they did not receive any responses whatsoever

As someone who has been involved in recruiting for several years, and worked with organizations to improve their recruiting processes and technologies, there are some consistent issues that seem to come up that can harm your overall brand as it relates to the recruiting process:

  • Don’t play games with salary information. The only reason not to share it is because it leaves you room to hire someone at below budget if the opportunity presents itself. It’s one of the first questions that a candidate will ask – especially if it’s a passive candidate that maybe wasn’t actively seeking a job but was contacted about a potential role within your organization. How you respond to this question will set the tone for any follow-up conversations. If you are confident that you are paying a fair wage and in range of what they market dictates – then tell them the numbers.
  • Provide clear job descriptions. My approach in recruiting has been to cast a wide net, get as many respondents as possible, and then start to eliminate some who didn’t meet the standards of my client. I wanted the best candidate out of 100 than the best candidate out of 10. So to get that big response, I posted job descriptions that marketed the company and told just the basics of the job that was open – far from being a very detailed job description. If this is also your approach, I would suggest having a secondary detailed description could be sent as a follow up to the ones who appear to be qualified.
  • Communicate your hiring timeline. This is always a tough one to answer because there are so many unknown variables. Your organization wants to hire the best candidate possible, and not just settle on someone because of a magic date on a calendar. I typically answer this with something like, “If they come across the right candidate, they are willing to immediately move forward and make an offer.”
  • Make the online application process quick and easy. It should not take an hour of someone’s time to submit a resume. What are the most vital pieces of information that you need in order to begin the process of considering a candidate – a resume – maybe a short questionnaire with some key answers on it? The truth is, the longer your application process, the more people are likely to be dropping out before even completing it. Maybe the parent who was going to apply before going to pick up the kids from school, and they thought 45 minutes was more than enough time to send in their resume, but your application process was much more advanced than that. Again, if you want the best candidate out of 100 instead the best out of 10, simplify your application process. You can always request additional information from qualified candidates at a later time.
  • Be careful not to invade their privacy. There is no need for a candidate’s social security number, driver’s license number, and/or references all at the point of application. At least let them interview first. Face it, we live in an age when people are hesitant to provide any personal identity information to someone that they do not know if they should trust. It’s important for the candidate to know that this is a legitimate career opportunity and that they are working with professionals before providing this type of information.
  • Value the candidate’s time. Cancelling or rescheduling interviews or not paying attention in an interview can harm your brand in big ways. Many candidates spend time researching the company, taking off from their current employment, buying new clothes, traveling – their time should be respected. Imagine how you would respond if you had invested a significant amount of time in preparation for an interview, only to have someone ask a couple of questions and answer their phone 4 times during the course of your interview. Coaching your interviewers/hiring managers in this area is likely a very good idea.
  • Don’t misrepresent the work. Paint an accurate picture of the job for the candidate. It does no one any good for the new employee to show up on day 1 to realize that it wasn’t the job they expected. Understand that there is a difference in introducing a job to a candidate, and informing the candidate about a job. You don’t have to go through all of the challenges the person might face in this role during your first introductory call, but before the candidate is made an offer, they need to see a realistic picture of what this job will be – good and bad.
  • You are being interviewed as well. Many interviewers fail to consider that the candidate is also interviewing them and the company too. Provide the information to the candidate that they need in order to make a good decision regarding potential employment. A good interview shouldn’t just be about you getting the information that you need to make a decision, but also a time for the candidate to see where and who they would be working with, get a feel for the inner workings of the company or team, expectations for the role, a feel for how someone manages, etc. Give them enough time to ask any questions that they feel are important.
  • Keep your commitments. If you interview a candidate and tell them they will know something by a certain day – then communicate with that candidate on that day (even if it’s just a note saying that a decision needs to be postponed for a few days). Would you promise a customer something by a certain day and then not deliver or at least communicate with them if something has changed? Communicate as often as possible and you’ll find that candidates truly appreciate the time and effort.
  • Bad news is better than no news. Let a candidate know where they stand – even if it’s just to say that they are no longer being considered. I’ve received hundreds of emails, cards, and notes from candidates who thanked me for telling them they didn’t get the job. Candidate’s number one complaint is falling into a black hole after applying or interviewing for a job. They really get irritated at this one.

As a recruiter who has worked with all types of companies – big and small – from a wide variety of industries, the largest, most well-known companies do not always have an advantage when competing for the best employees. The company who does the best job of making the candidate feel valued, important, provides timely feedback, and offers the best vision of their future within the company – they typically win in the battle for the best talent.

ERE recognizes recruiting initiatives each year, and this year they recognized Adidas as having the Best Employer Brand. They wanted to understand how their company was perceived, so they conducted a survey of all of their employees, as well as their job seekers. Once they had the results, they coordinated marketing, communications, and HR together to create a “brand bible” that educates people about their brand, and an employer branding toolkit to use in recruitment advertising.

Sodexo was also recognized as they engaged every employee in the company – from interns to executives – as brand ambassadors. They would communicate their brand on college campuses, professional association meetings, and through social media. As a result, they have reduced their costs on paid advertising on job boards because more people are familiar with their brand and searching for them online.


The RPO Impact

By now, you may be trying to figure out how to cover all of these areas when you already have limited time, resources, and budgets. If we go back and look at all of the issues that create Angry Birds, outsourcing your recruiting efforts to a specialized team whose sole purposes are to meet and exceed your established service level agreements could be the way to go.  RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) agreements can address them and accommodate for them in their recruiting workflows and with specialized recruiting technologies.

Example 1: The biggest complaint from job seekers is falling into a black hole after applying for a job. Service level agreements could be established with a RPO provider where:

  • the candidate receives a confirmation email/text as soon as they have completed the application process for an open position or if the candidate registered for your talent community but did not apply for a specific job.
  • The candidate could also get an email letting them know that the recruiter is interested in scheduling some time with them and providing an online link that allows the candidate to see the recruiter’s available dates/times so they can schedule it at their own convenience.
  • The same can be done to schedule an interview with a hiring manager within your company.
  • They can also have a notification built into the workflow when they have been eliminated from consideration for the position.

This approach gives the candidate a great deal of feedback at critical stages of the process, and also speeds up the process by allowing the candidate to schedule their own interviews based on the availability of the recruiter and the hiring manager instead of playing phone tag for sometimes days.

Example 2: Providing clear job descriptions is a sometimes slow and tedious process. Gathering and creating descriptions for every role within your organization, formatting them consistently, and then deciding what your “go to market” description consists of versus the actual description with full details, these take a lot of time. Then add to it the process of creating screening guides for each of those descriptions for recruiters to evaluate all candidates consistently and equally. Then there is creating interview scorecards for managers to use when comparing one candidate to another.  Depending on the size of your organization, this could take anywhere from a few months to more than a year. A RPO firm can tackle this project during the implementation of a new engagement. Most Applicant Tracking Systems will allow the storage of a library of both descriptions and screening questions.

Example 3: Making the application process as user friendly as possible is a key on the size of your potential talent pool. Having a candidate spend an hour applying for a job isn’t in your best interest. I know that you want information on your candidates, and I believe you can get what’s needed initially and still make the process take a few minutes. The use of technology can make this a quick and easy process, and most RPO firms have several to choose from. Having a candidate enter your talent portal and select the job they are interested in is only the first step, but the talent portal needs to be easy to navigate and quick to load. It should be a simple process to upload a resume. The use of screening questions during the application process is helpful, but make sure that most of these questions are Yes/No, Multiple Choice, or Multiple Select answers, and not essay type questions. You can state your questions in a way that gives you the initial information needed, but also keeps the process moving quickly for the candidate. The more in-depth answers can come in a phone screen or face to face interview between the recruiter and the candidate. Through the use of these technologies, the candidate’s initial answers can be weighted and scored so the recruiter immediately knows which candidates to spend their time on, which are marginal, and which are no fit at all without having to go through every detail on every candidate. By taking this approach, you can make the application process no more than 10-15 minutes and gather a large pool of candidates for the opening you are trying to fill, or for others within your organization. Having a candidate start the application process and quit it 40 minutes into the process doesn’t do your organization any good.

That is how a good RPO engagement can address just three of the issues damaging your overall corporate brand. In a survey from Focused Marketing, they looked at why customers leave a business. They were:

  • 68% upset with the treatment they’ve received
  • 14% dissatisfied with the product or service
  • 9% begin doing business with the competition
  • 5% seek alternatives or develop other business relationships
  • 3% move away
  • 1% die

Doesn’t it stand to reason that your business could potentially lose customers by the way they were treated as an applicant? Maybe not 68% of them leaving, but what impact would 20% make? The survey went on to say, “For every complaint a business receives, there are approximately 26 other customers with unresolved complaints or problems.” And that “A dissatisfied customer will tell up to 10 people about his/her experience. 13% of those unhappy customers will tell up to 20 people.”

Alexander Mann Solutions completed a global study of 546 consumers in the US, UK, and China. It found:

  • 52% of respondents said that negative experiences at recruitment interviews would affect their future purchasing decisions.
  • 47% of Chinese respondents said that they would reconsider buying from an organization after a bad interview experience.
  • 50% of US respondents said the same.
  • 58% of UK respondents agreed.

With Facebook, Twitter, and other social media avenues available to these candidates – each one can impact hundreds or even thousands of other consumers with negativity around your brand.

How you treat your candidates does matter and it will impact your business. There is a very large, world renowned company in Austin that no longer gets the best candidates because of the way they have treated their candidates, contractors, and new employees. The word is out and people apply there who either:

  • just don’t know the reputation,
  • or because there is nowhere else for them to consider.

As a recruiter who has tried to recruit for that company, it was a very tough sell when I revealed who the company was that was interested in them. Many hung up the phone as soon as they heard.

Converting Angry Birds to Hog Heaven

I live in Texas, and we have an expression called “Hog Heaven.” This is when something causes 100% satisfaction or pure delight! Is it possible to have job seekers who are in Hog Heaven? Well, maybe not at 100% because that would require each job seeker to get the job. But as far as making the process easier, faster, and making the job seeker feel valued and important – I believe RPO engagements can give your organization a lift in this area.

A good RPO engagement begins with the provider listening to you and what you desire for your overall recruiting initiatives. If they hear from you that your branding efforts are critical in your strategy, then that provider can build the workflows with that in mind. BUT, I would say that a RPO firm who truly understands the importance of your branding as it relates to recruiting should already have a track record of addressing those issues with other customers. If you mentioning this to them seems to be the first time they’ve ever considered it – buyer beware! You may need to keep looking for another provider.

In recruiting, you always want to cast a wide net. Finding the best candidate out of 100 is always better than finding the best candidate out of 10. Your reputation in the marketplace does impact the number and types of candidates who respond to you. That’s important! You shouldn’t just be interested in the ones who are interested in you. You should be interested in the very best candidate, even if they’ve never considered working for you – and feel confident that once they research your company, they’ll be intrigued enough to continue that dialogue.

Candidates should be seen as customers. Treat them respectfully. Value their time. Do what you say you’re going to do. Communicate with them. Make things as simple as possible. Be honest and straight-forward. When you do these things, you will convert those Angry Birds to a Hog Heaven state of mind!

RPO Without Raising Your Debt Ceiling

RPO Without Raising Your Debt Ceiling

Presented By: Doug Douglas – National Engagement Manager at Stark

HR.com RPO Virtual Conference – July 18,2011

Today, our topic is RPO Without Raising Your Debt Ceiling. During our time, we will be looking at:

  • What RPO is
  • Why would a company consider a RPO engagement
  • What are the usual benefits of a good RPO engagement
  • What should you consider when searching for a RPO provider
  • What are some of the risks associated with RPO


RPO – Enlighten Me

Recruitment Process Outsourcing. This phrase burst onto the recruiting scene in the past 10 years or so, but the concept of it has been around for much longer. It was consistently used in the 1970’s during Silicon Valley’s very competitive market for high tech labor – it was very hard to find good, qualified, and available talent. RPO was still dramatically different back then from what it is today. RPO in the 1970’s was basically companies buying lists of potential candidates from a recruiting firm – like a sourcing list.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Human Resources Outsourcing (HRO) became popular by companies outsourcing part of their processes like benefits or payroll to a third party company. This would be companies like ADP, Paychex, Gevity, etc.

Then right around the early 2000’s is when companies seriously started considering outsourcing their recruiting efforts because it was such a significant cost for companies to run internally. The earlier movements with companies beginning to outsource various smaller parts of their business made them more comfortable with outsourcing a larger and very expensive piece of their business as well.


RPO today is when a company will outsource all, or part, of their recruitment needs to another company who specializes in locating, qualifying, and delivering candidates to the hiring company to consider. RPO packages can vary though from one engagement to another:

  • One engagement could outsource just the screening of a large candidate pool. It is not uncommon right now for a company to post a job – especially one like administrative support or sales or customer service and have hundreds of candidates to apply to those positions. So, some organizations just seek help in visually screening resumes and cutting it down to a manageable amount for their internal recruiters to work with.
  • Another engagement could outsource full recruiting efforts for a specific division or geographic region. Maybe there is a portion of your company where qualified candidates are scarce and you need some help generating candidate flow there. An RPO engagement could just focus on a specific skill set, division, or area of the country, or internationally.
  • OR, a company might outsource the recruiting efforts of every position within the company – regardless of skill set, division, geographic region, etc. Many companies have found great success in this type of arrangement and seen significant cost savings. A third party provider would come in and take on your corporate identity and work just as an internal recruiting team would – but have contracts, performance metrics to achieve, etc. This RPO team could work at your facility, or work remotely from another part of the country. Some RPO providers have an international team that does the recruiting efforts. The company can let the provider know what they are comfortable with, and the RPO provider makes it happen.

Why has RPO taken on such a bigger name in the past few years? Why do people see the benefits of it now?


Well, the labor markets are just different today than they were in the past:

  • People are more likely to make a job change now than they were in the past. My father worked for GE for 20+ years before starting his own business. My mother worked for Sears for about the same amount of time. They came up during the time when you had a job and you kept your job – even if it meant not climbing the ladder as quickly as they hoped.
  • We have more contract workers and temporary workers now than in the past. Some companies only seek to hire contractors or temp-to-hire workers now as they use the “try before you buy” approach to finding good staff.
  • And with unemployment currently at 9.2% (and probably more like 17-18% when you look at those who have given up on finding work, or being under-employed), you simply have more candidates now than you may have experienced in the past – which means that it takes more time, money, people, and resources to work your way through potential candidates to find the perfect fit. 5-6 years ago, you could post a job and get 50 candidates. Today you could post the same job and have 300-400 apply.

RPO solutions can help companies improve their overall recruiting quality, costs, speed, and service. It saves companies, on average, 50% when compared to contingency search fees. Even if a company is not using contingency recruiters, cost savings opportunities are still present. The RPO provider should be well established in various industries and know where to find more qualified candidates. When you combine this with their recruiting expertise, stellar processes, and technologies, RPO providers should simply perform better.


Apart from the cost of contingency recruiters, here are other significant costs associated with the search for a new employee:

  • Posting jobs online (Monster, CareerBuilder, Dice, Linked In, etc.) – all of these vary by price, but they start to add up when you put those job postings on several sites.
  • Internal Recruiters (salaries, benefits, equipment, office space, phones, etc.) – The actual cost of having an internal recruiting team is not insignificant.
  • Lost productivity costs (production goes down when you are not fully staffed) – Having a reduced workforce just can’t supply the same production and results as one that is fully staffed – unless you are willing to incentivize your remaining workforce through overtime pay, bonuses, or other rewards.
  • Training costs (reduced production again for someone to take time to train someone else) – Not only is it the reduced production of the person being trained, but the person who takes time from their normal role to train the new worker.
  • Pre-Hire screening costs (background checks, drug tests, MVR, assessments, SSN, reference checks, etc.)
  • Hiring Manager interview time (reduced productivity when taking time to interview) – When you consider the lost productivity from a manager who has to take time to interview a candidate – it’s important that the manager not waste his/her time interviewing people who are marginally qualified. You want them to only speak with people who are qualified and available for the position and not spend any wasted time on others.
  • Trainee doing the role compared to a veteran (reduced productivity and increased mistakes)
  • Increased potential of overtime (while someone else fills in)
  • Potential lost sales (due to being understaffed) – By the way, you’d be surprised how many HR leaders aren’t aware that this happens. I have asked the HR team how often this is the case and told that they can’t think of any instances. But I can go ask field managers and they tell me it happens all of the time. One company that I recently spoke with had to turn down a project that would have paid them millions of dollars because there was no way they would have the staff in place by the time the project was set to begin.
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Lowered employee morale How do you put a price on this? But be assured, when there is turnover happening within an office or department – others notice and it makes them begin to question their own stability or desire to be there.
  • Your brand takes a hit in the marketplace People notice. People talk. Your reputation is discussed at networking events.


One thing is for certain, it costs you FAR more than a job posting on Craig’s List or Monster for every opening your company experiences.


Seven Steps to Success

The benefits of a RPO engagement to an organization will vary based on the uniqueness of each company and its current situation, but there are seven results of successful RPO engagements that are typical regardless of the company (if you have partnered with a good RPO provider):

1) Reduced attrition levels – I worked with one oil & gas customer who experienced a reduction in their attrition rates from 47.8% to 13.4% in their first year alone. This is done by having a very precise screening process established and providing managers with only qualified candidates to consider. When the managers have solid candidates, and many of them to choose from, they can make a better hiring decision instead of sometimes settling for someone. The cost savings found here more than paid for the RPO engagement.

2) Reduced costs per hire – One example is that an RPO provider can negotiate better rates with vendors than a single company might because of the volume of work that they do. While some companies may pay $500 for a job posting, a recruiting firm might be able to negotiate that price down 80% or more.

3) Reduced time to fill – The ability to have a dedicated team that repeatedly works with the same managers and divisions gets to know the types of people that the manager is drawn to. This eliminates the need for presenting as many candidates once that trust has been built. One thing that I have found to be consistent for me is that the recruiters just get to know those individual managers and the unique or special requirements that one has compared to another. Where the recruiter might present 7-8 good candidates at the beginning of an engagement, a few months or a year down the road – they will only need to submit 3 candidates to get a hire because they just know what that manager likes. I have even gotten to the point with some managers where they trusted that I knew their profile so well that I could send over one candidate and say “Here’s your hire.” and they would immediate interview them to verify and hire them.

4) EEO Compliance standards are met – Companies can work with the RPO provider to establish a consistent, repeatable, scalable process that meets their company’s EEOC standards. It is important that all candidates go through the same screening and hiring process, and that those steps are documented to minimize any legal risks that could come their way. With the technologies that a RPO provider has in place, many/if not all of the details around compliance can be automated, time-stamped, and saved for potential future audits.

5) Increased quality of hires – With a customized solution that touches the things that matter most to your company, a RPO provider will establish screening processes that will funnel down the mass number of candidates to only the most qualified. A good RPO provider will be looking at every aspect of the recruiting process and be able to recommend solutions that will ultimately improve the quality of hires. There are some industries out there that currently feel like they just need to throw a warm body into a role thinking that “somebody is better than nobody.” That approach is just throwing money away. One thing that we have done is go in and hold Interview Training Sessions with potential managers and make sure they know what to ask, why to ask, what NOT to ask, and how to evaluate a candidate. This has helped tremendously in some cases. By the way, 90% of HR leaders surveyed say that it is critically important that they improve the quality of hires that they make – but only 40% measure it.

6) Standardized recruitment process established (ultimately improving the company brand) – As mentioned before, your RPO provider should be able to customize a solution to fit your organization. Everything should be considered from the formatting of job descriptions, the messaging involved to a candidate applying to the position, automated messages that update the candidate throughout the process, the information that is presented to the hiring manager to consider. Everything is carefully considered to maximize the most of the recruiting experience, as well as leave candidates – even those declined – with a good feeling about your company. You have to look at your recruiting activity as a form of branding because it is.

7) Accurate metrics to help measure success – You and your RPO provider can agree to certain Performance Metrics that must be met and that reports be run regularly to show where you are having great success, where things might be bottlenecking, and where things need to be improved. Measuring things like the number of days open / days from candidate presentation to hiring manager feedback / feedback to interview / days in onboarding stage / average time to fill / average cost per hire / all of these metrics can be helpful to you in running a successful RPO engagement.


RPO Improves Your Brand

We have probably all heard the phrase “unintended consequences.” This is when we have made a decision and just didn’t anticipate all of the consequences of that decision beforehand. I think HR leaders, and recruiting specifically, have an unintended consequence that some aren’t even aware of. It’s when candidate’s sees your job posting and gets excited about the possibility of joining your team, only to take the time to go through your application process, screening process, assessment process, or even interview process only to fall into a black hole and never hear anything else from you. The unintended consequences can be numerous:

  • The candidate changes his/her opinion of your company based on their recruiting experience. Maybe it was the lack of feedback. Maybe it was the amount of time that it took to go through the application process. Maybe it was a conversation with a recruiter or HR representative.
  • The candidate decides to start telling friends, family, and neighbors about your company.
  • The friends, family, and neighbors start to tell their friends, family, and neighbors.
  • The next time you have a job posting, a candidate thinks twice before applying because of their previous experience with your company, or the stories that he/she heard from others who have applied in the past.

Companies don’t always consider the fact that they are being evaluated by the candidate. It only hurts your company when a candidate applies for a position and never hears from anyone inside your organization. It only hurts when timely feedback is not provided after completing a questionnaire or having a phone interview. It hurts when they take the time to prepare for an interview, only to wait for weeks to hear if they were selected. Sometimes candidates actually do spend hours preparing for an interview – researching the company and knowing it inside and out, researching the person who is going to be leading the interview, buying a new suit or dress, getting a haircut, etc. They do this with the anticipation that the company is authentically interested in them and with the assumption that they will have the courtesy to provide them with an answer.

RPO providers should be building into their processes opportunities for the candidates to be reassured and valued. They just want to know where they stand – even if it’s bad news, it’s better than no news. When your company values them enough to keep them posted through this stressful time in their life – IT POWERS YOUR BRAND!

Nick Burkholder, founder of Staffing.org says, “The single greatest improvement opportunity area for organizations is candidate communications.”


Selecting a RPO Provider

There are many RPO options out there for you to choose from. It’s hard to know what you would be getting in them just by reading their websites. This is a very important decision and you need to consider providers carefully – not just looking at the company, but at the individuals that you will be partnering with.  Here are some things that I would suggest you look for when deciding who will serve your company:

  • Do they have a track record of success? Can they easily share stories of dramatic situations where their RPO made a difference? Have they worked with similar types of projects – maybe not even within the same industry, but with similar struggles and reasonable comparisons?
  • Will they customize a solution to your unique needs? Many of the larger RPO companies come in and say, “Here’s our offering.” and you have to adjust to their model. Some are more interested in telling you what they are going to do for you. I would suggest that you look for a provider who wants to hear more about you, understand your challenges, understand what is working well, know where the struggles are, and then come back with an offering that addresses everything you discussed.
  • Who will you interact with? You need to feel good about your point person and the team involved in the delivery. What is their track record? How do the individual personalities mesh? Can you count on them to do what they say they will do? Will you be gaining a partner or signing up a new vendor?

RPO Risks

Transitioning to a RPO engagement will always carry some risks, but with some careful planning – you should be able to minimize these risks.

  • Risk 1 – Effectiveness – In order for the engagement to be effective, there must be clear and precise communication between both parties. A poor understanding of what the company is going to provide to you, or a poor understanding of what you are asking the RPO provider to do will lead to frustration on both sides. Make sure that you thoroughly cover the scope of the project and know how each area of concern will be addressed.
  • Risk 2 – Failure to Deliver – There’s a chance that your RPO provider may not give you enough quality candidates to fill your open positions, especially if you are in an industry where there are labor shortages. It will always take some time to establish all roads that will lead to good candidates, so make sure there is ample time allotted for the provider to come through for you. Referral networks, relationships with associations, career fairs, and casting a wide net in an effort to get the word out – those all take some time to establish. Be reasonable in your performance metrics that the provider needs to reach in those first few months. You should see gradual improvement from month to month. If they are consistently missing the mark though, and no improvement is shown, then it’s time to escalate the issue to your provider’s highest levels and demand changes. It might take a new engagement manager, new recruiters, or a new strategy. It might even require a new provider altogether – knowing that all providers are the same.
  • Risk 3 – Pre-Existing Issues – Hiring a RPO provider to come in and do things exactly the same way you were doing them before is not a good idea. Listen to those who have expertise in these types of engagements and let them show you alternative ways or ideas. That provider should be willing to consider methods that were very beneficial for your organization, but they also need to look at trouble spots and find ways to make improvements there too. Managing your internal team may require an internal champion to work alongside your provider – clearing the path from obstacles that may cause problems.
  • Risk 4 – Offsite or Offshore Delivery Team – Be clear with what you expect from your provider in the area of a delivery team. Many RPO providers will plan to use an offshore delivery team exclusively. Others will plan to recruit remotely from another part of the US. Those may not be issues for you – but if they are, make sure they understand if you want the work to be done onsite, regionally, nationally, or internationally. No matter what model you feel comfortable with, I would always suggest having a point person who can be at your offices within 24 hours to sit down and discuss anything you wish, or just to build relationships within your organization. I feel strongly about the power of shaking hands with someone, looking them in the eye, and having a real partnership. As an engagement manager I seek that, but I also want my recruiters to have those same opportunities. Your provider should be able to customize the delivery team in such a way that will satisfy all.
  • Risk 5 – Executive Buy-In – When asking an organization to make a major change in process that impacts the entire organization, make sure that you have executive level support that is willing to stand firm and support this engagement. You will sometimes have decision makers internally that don’t like the idea, don’t like change, and felt like they don’t need any help. It’s so important to have someone in an executive leadership role who will support this engagement and try to win over those who may not be as confident that a RPO engagement will work.

I worked with a manager one time named Vince. He had been with the company a long time and he was being forced to use our recruiting firm by his VP. We had a conference call with him where we sat and listened to him for 20-30 minutes tell us how this wasn’t his idea, that it wasn’t going to work, and that we would never be able to find the kind of people that he would be interested in. He went on to threaten us by saying that when we didn’t find someone for this role that he would try his best to get us fired and spread the word throughout the rest of the organization of our shortcomings. We heard him out and let him get his frustration out.

I then said, “Vince, I hear what you’re saying and I understand your concerns. Maybe we won’t be able to find someone that you’ll like, but I want to give it a try anyway. Why don’t you tell me exactly what you’re looking for and let me see what I can do?” He spent the next 10 minutes describing what the perfect employee would look like. I told him I appreciated the information and that I was going to do my best to find someone that he would like – and we hung up.

3 hours after we hung up – Vince checked his email and saw the candidate I presented to him 2 hours before. Vince called me and said that he would like to interview that candidate. I had him go in the next day and Vince hired him on the spot. That candidate ended up becoming his best employee. He gave him 3 raises in his first year, and Vince even paid for his daily commute out of his own pocket because he didn’t want to risk ever losing this employee.

That came to a happy ending and Vince became one of my biggest fans through that experience. He recommended me to everyone. BUT WHAT IF I HADN’T FOUND HIM A GOOD CANDIDATE? WHAT IF HE WANTED ME TO BE FIRED FROM THAT ENGAGEMENT BECAUSE I DIDN’T PRODUCE? Would there have been an executive with that company that would have defended us and stood their ground against Vince – knowing we were having great successes in other parts of the country?